From the ACC
Spring is here, and so happy to see everyone out working in their yards! In these uncertain times our homes have become our safe haven to stay healthy and safe. Taking pride in our home and family is what we are thankful for.
We have now completed our second round of lot reviews since our initial review in September. We are so encouraged, and appreciate everyone who has listened and performed the work needed to comply with our ACC Standards. When we purchased our homes, we each agreed to abide by these ACC Standards. We understand that our timing will never be perfect, so if you receive a letter in the mail, but have completed some or all of the items left on the list, please dis-regard, or respond to us via email. (See our email address below)We also recognize that certain times may be physically or financially difficult, but if you regularly maintain your yard by mowing, blowing, spraying and/or pulling weeds, trimming bushes, laying mulch and or pine straw as needed and general clean-up of limbs and debris, we will have the beautiful neighborhood to be proud of.
We want to encourage your communication with us. Send an email any time to discuss your work plans, request assistance , if needed, or ask for ideas that might help solve issues. We are here to help you in any way we can. If we notice that there has been no attempt to complete the work requested and no communication from you, we will have no choice but to turn the issues over to our Board, who will then proceed with fines.
Let's all work together to keep our beautiful community!Thanks,Your ACC Committee
Governed by boards of directors—homeowners ostensibly chosen by their peers to represent the interests of their communities—HOAs are organizations that have become somewhat infamous for imposing arbitrary fines and liens on unpopular or "rogue" homeowners, making shit up as they go along, treating people unfairly, enforcing strict adherence to their rules, collecting fees, and acting irrationally or illegally. The people who sit on their boards are often petty, vindictive, utterly incompetent, and/or control-freakish. Regardless, anyone who wants to move into a housing development ruled by an HOA has to agree to follow the HOA's rules—which can prove troublesome for anyone who's even slightly individualistic, or simply laissez-faire about the color of their neighbors' driveways.
The Horror of Homeowners' Associations
Sure, you can decide against moving into a HOA-governed development—except that in many parts of the country, doing so has become increasingly difficult. More than 80 percent of newly built homes belong to association communities, reports the Associated Press; 24.4 million homes, or 20 percent of all homes in America, are represented by HOAs, with concentrations higher in some states. You can try to look for an HOA whose culture, rules, and members appeal to you—but then again, if just one or two board members quit or are replaced, your HOA's culture and rules might become completely different/personally unbearable to you.
And if you somehow end up on the board's bad side by, say, planting an unauthorized flower, or flying your flag on the wrong type of pole, it's likely that your HOA will fine you, lien you, and threaten you with foreclosure—just like Jim Lane's HOA did.
Just Let This Veteran Fly His American Flag Already
Lane's a North Carolina man who's caught up in a dispute with his HOA because he planted some pansies in a community common area. He "felt the flowers would spruce up the park, which he viewed as unsightly and unkempt," reports the Huntersville Herald. For committing his act of botanical goodwill, the Gilead Ridge Homeowners Association fined him. Then, when he refused to pay, the HOA placed a lien on his house. In the interest of avoiding foreclosure, Lane paid the fine—but he's now suing the HOA for $800,000 for abuse of process and other things. He's also founded a statewide coalition to help other homeowners in his state fight back against their HOAs.
Don't think Lane's HOA "couldn't possibly" take his house just because he didn't pay their fines, because they totally could: "Before now, associations rarely, if ever, foreclosed on homeowners," reports AP. "But today, encouraged by a new industry of lawyers and consultants, boards are increasingly foreclosing on people 60 days past due on association fees."
Evan McKenzie, a University of Illinois-Chicago political science professor and author of the book Beyond Privatopia: Rethinking Residential Private Government, recently explained to me that a complicating aspect of HOA disputes is that they often become personalized, "so you can't even resolve them." When board members interpret the rules to suit their own ends, homeowners often must look to the courts to enforce basic standards of accountability—and that can get expensive. "There's no training or actual requirements" for board positions, McKenzie adds, which means that the people in charge often don't understand the most basic requirements of the law.
Top 10 HOA List
Many people who own apartments, condos or single family residences in communal locations confess to having a love/hate relationship with their homeowners association. Sure, the HOA is great when it comes to shoveling snow off the sidewalk and keeping the pool maintained. Sometimes, though, they can seem either a little power hungry or totally insane when it comes to the rules they enforce on homeowners. Here are some of the regulations that may show up in the fine print of your HOA bylaws. Make sure you ask about HOA regulations and bylaws before you buy. Don’t get caught!
- Here’s your sign. Now, remove it. Many HOAs prohibit residents from posting signs of any kind on their lawns or property. This might help neighbors get along better during election years, but it can also be a problem, especially if you are trying to sell your home.
- A rose is a rose is a rose. Just don’t plant too many of them. Some HOAs will limit the amount of plant life you can have on your property. They especially like to micromanage the number of rosebushes you choose to plant, as well as any shrubs or small trees lining your walkway or yard. Read your bylaws before you start shopping for fertilizer.
- It’s a dog eat dog world. According to MSN, a woman of a certain age was fined $25 every time she walked through the lobby of her building with her cocker spaniel, because the HOA bylaws required all dogs to be carried and not allowed to walk. Let’s hope no one in that building has a St. Bernard.
- If you build it, they will come. And probably force you to take it down, if it is a fence you have built without permission. Check your bylaws before you put something up.
- Watch your weeds. Almost all HOAs have strict rules concerning weeds, trees, hedges and general lawn care.
- Nonconformity is frowned upon. Especially when it comes to things like your mailbox. If you wanted to get cute with a fun mailbox design, your HOA might not appreciate your creativity. Some communities are required to have a uniform look to their mailboxes, and you will face a fine if yours is not the right color, size and material. Same thing with your garbage can.
- Speaking of garbage cans…. A major sticking point with some HOAs is how long you keep your garbage can outside. Your bylaws probably list a specific number of hours it can be out and visible. Make sure you do not set your trash out too soon, and do not be lazy about pulling that can back inside.
- No open door policy. If you have a garage, your HOA may require you to keep it closed when you are not using it to enter or exit your house.
- Play a lot of basketball. Just not at home. Does your HOA restrict basketball hoops? They might have rules about swing sets too. This could be the answer to your kids’ prayers for more television and video game time.
- Lose the lights. If you have ideas about going all Clark W. Griswold with the holiday lights, think again. Some HOAs prohibit them altogether, and others have rules about how many and how often.